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07 Dec 2015 1 Comments

Umbilical Cord Tissue Cell Therapy For Eye Disorder

According to researchers of Duke University, the cells isolated from the umbilical cord tissue are found to produce molecules that help the retinal neurons of the eye to grow, connect and survive in rat models. This study shows that the umbilical cord tissue cells can be effective in treating degenerative eye diseases. This remarkable study finding got published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

The umbilical cord tissue derived cells are extracted from the cord itself and possess different properties compared to the stem cells in the umbilical cord blood. In their experiment, the Duke team used an established cell culture system to determine the working of human umbilical cord tissue derived cells (hUTC) and how they contribute to the growth of neurons isolated from the retina of rats. The hUTC cells were placed in the culture fluid where they came in contact with the retinal neurons.

The Duke team was able to observe the following:

  • The hUTC cells in contact with neurons led to new connections between neurons called synapses and they also helped in the formation of new tiny branches called neurites which has the ability to create additional connections.
  • These neurons survived longer when compared to the neurons placed in the culture lacking umbilical cord tissue cells.
  • Thrombospondin 1, 2 and 4 present in the bath medium containing hUTC and retinal neurons are responsible for the creation of neurites and additional connections.
  • Blocking the Thrombospondin molecules did not affect the survival of neurons which indicates that there is some other factor in the umbilical cord tissue derived cells that influence the longevity of neurons.

“By learning how these cells work, we are getting one step closer in understanding the disease mechanism and treatment options,” says Cagla Eroglu, assistant professor of cell biology and neurobiology at Duke University, who also leads the research team. With further research and clinical trials, the umbilical cord tissue derived cells could be used in the treatment of human degenerative eye disorders in the future.

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